Canadian rock takes on a vivid new dimension with Sierra Pilot's debut full-length album, "Phantom Pains". Musically, it ignites with anthemic, guitar-driven energy, effortlessly bridging the gap between alternative and hard rock and channeling the spirit of early 90s arena rock bands.
Sierra Pilot, conceived by singer-songwriter Taylor Leith, exists simultaneously as both a solo project and a band. While Taylor unabashedly wears his influences on his sleeve, he masterfully carves out a fresh and invigorating take on the genre.
“Although singles, and EPs to a lesser extent, seem to dominate the current music landscape, the idea of crafting an entire album was always at the forefront of my mind. All my musical heroes wrote and released full records and it feels good to be in that company now,” Taylor says, noting he embraces the duality of the project’s studio vs. live incarnations. “The guys in the band are well-seasoned players and the chemistry we have on stage is phenomenal”.
The album harbors a central theme – an ode to life itself, urging listeners to seize the day and embrace every opportunity. In a world forever changed by the shadows of a pandemic, Sierra Pilot finds solace in the promise of a brighter tomorrow, evident in tracks like the melodically tough "Alive," the electrifying rush of "Adrenaline," and the optimistic allure of "Keys To The City."
As the first single released from “Phantom Pains”, “Alive”, holds a message of hope bolstered by the same guitar-driven spirit that propelled the Seattle music scene in the early 90s, “Alive” pairs an impeccable knack for melody with an anthemic refrain that at once sounds fresh and familiar.
“Life beats everyone down, so it’s all about getting back up and living life to the fullest. That’s the key message behind ‘Alive’, explains Taylor. “If you can find one good thing or make something good happen in the run of a day, you’re already miles ahead of so many people. Just the very notion of being alive; you get another day and another chance.”
On the vibrantly expansive second single from the album, “Keys To The City” explores the virtually limitless possibilities that come with the urge to let loose with good company. Meanwhile, the record’s third single, “Adrenaline,” explores the extraneous circumstances that sometimes get in the way of the thrill and excitement of a new relationship.
“’Adrenaline’ is about new love and the emotions that manifest when things get in the way of being together,” said Leith. “I tried to define those feelings of lust and desire but from the perspective of those who, through no fault of their own, aren’t able to act on those impulses.”
Elsewhere on Phantom Pains, Taylor’s songwriting displays a remarkable depth on “The Thief,” a track Inspired by songs such as “Black Chandelier” by Biffy Clyro and U2’s “With or Without You”. “The Thief” has a strong anthemic feel and vibrant melody with a power ballad undertone.
“People can fall in love with the idea of a toxic environment or toxic behaviour, even when they know it’s not the best thing for them”, Taylor explains, noting he wrote the song after watching a friend struggle through a series of toxic relationships. Ultimately, the song focuses on bad habits that people can’t seem to shake, whether that’s love, addiction, or almost anything else.”
Among the most personal songs on the record is the album’s title track, which Taylor says examines his past run-ins with substance abuse. Although those days are long behind him, he acknowledges moving past addiction is something that frequently poses a challenge to far too many people.
“I see it almost as a love letter to my old self”, he confesses. “It’s undoubtedly the most vulnerable song on the album where I’m looking back on something that, at the time, was such a huge part of my life. When you strip that away, it leaves a significant void that I can understand how some people would struggle to fill.”
With "Phantom Pains," Sierra Pilot delivers a strikingly authentic album that delivers an authentic musical experience that excels in both its lyrical depth and musical prowess. Spanning from moments of catharsis to ones of pure celebration, this debut full-length effort is a compelling commentary on the complexities of the human condition, solidifying Sierra Pilot’s place in the contemporary rock landscape.